Premium English cider maker Thatchers will be harvesting more than just apples this fall as it recently announced an exclusive tie-up with Innis & Gunn that will see the family-owned company enter the lucrative U.S. market for the first time in its 110-year history. Under the three-year agreement, which commences this month with the launch of Thatchers Gold (4.8 percent ABV), the Scottish craft brewer will assume all administrative, marketing and promotional support for Thatchers’ flagship brand through its U.S. subsidiary, Innis & Gunn USA Inc. (IGUSA).
Dougal Sharp, founder and CEO of Innis & Gunn, said: “Thatchers Gold is regarded as being one of the best ciders in the world. Thatchers’ commitment to crafting the highest-quality and best-tasting cider means that they are the perfect complement to the position that Innis & Gunn has established in the US beer market.
“Thatchers Gold will be new to the U.S., where the cider category is showing explosive growth. A new generation of American consumers is looking for ciders with heritage, quality and character, so this is a very exciting step and we are proud to be part of it,” he continued.
The entire cider/perry category in the United States is equal to less than 1 percent of overall beer volume sales, but growing fast. Over the last three years, sales of hard cider have tripled in the United States, with volume and value sales increasing by 64 and 69 percent, respectively, in 2013 alone, says Euromoniter International. It is estimated that, in 10 years’ time, the category in the United States will have grown to 1.3 billion liters.
“The reputation of crafted English cider is rapidly spreading in the U.S.,” said Martin Thatcher, managing director and fourth generation cidermaker. “Thatchers Gold has gained a well-earned reputation in the U.K. for its quality and great taste, together with the values of heritage and provenance that it represents.
“With this continued growth in understanding and awareness of hard cider, the time is now right for Thatchers Gold to enter this exciting U.S. market and engage with those consumers seeking out new and interesting brands. With Thatchers Gold sitting alongside Innis & Gunn’s range of craft beers, we are very optimistic for the future.”
Established in New York in 2010 and employing a team of four, IGUSA represents the Innis & Gunn beer portfolio in more than 20 U.S. states. In 2014, the Edinburgh-based brewer expects to sell 3 million bottles of its award-winning brews stateside, a growth of 32 percent year-over-year by volume. The agreement with Thatchers will enable IGUSA to increase its manpower; the independent brewer has committed to taking on an additional four personnel by September, with further recruitment rounds planned over the three-year term.
Sharp added: “As Dan DeLuca, our U.S. managing director, always tells us, under the U.S.’s unique three-tier system, having sufficient ‘shoe leather’ or ‘feet-on-the street’ is crucial to building premium brands. With the arrival of Thatchers Gold, our team will immediately double in size with more appointments being made in January 2015. We have agreed with Thatchers to continue to build our U.S. team year-on-year and, in fact, if things go as we expect, we will look at accelerating this program and making the IGUSA team even larger, faster.”
Thatchers Gold, which outperforms the U.K. off-premise by 36 percent and the U.K. on-premise by 27 percent, is crafted at Thatchers’ Myrtle Farm in Somerset, South West England, where the Thatcher family has been tending its orchards since 1904. Thatchers’ cidermakers use skills passed down through the family to blend their favorite apples such as Dabinett, Somerset Redstreak and Porters Perfection to create this medium-dry cider that takes its name from its bright, golden colour. Thatchers Gold is gluten free, and can be served chilled or over ice.
Thatchers Gold will initially be available to the United States on- and off-premise in 330 ml x4 pack at $8.99 and 500 ml bottles at $3.99, with kegged cider to follow in early 2015.